The University of Colorado Boulder campus is seen on Monday, August 23, 2021. (Olivia Sun, The Colorado Sun)

This story was originally published by Chalkbeat. Sign up for their newsletters at

Colorado’s 2021 high school graduates were even less likely to go to college than those who graduated in the depths of pandemic shutdowns. 

That’s according to the most recent data released by the Colorado Department of Higher Education on college-growing trends in the state.

College-going rates, however, dropped by less than a percentage point from 2020, a sign rates somewhat stabilized after a sharp dip from 2019 — when the start of the pandemic caused a 5 percentage-point drop in high school seniors going to college.

Overall, about 49.9% of 2021 high school graduates went to college, according to new numbers outlined in a statewide report that annually tracks postsecondary progress. The rate is much lower than the national average of 61.8%. 

Colorado Department of Higher Education Executive Director Angie Paccione said in a news release the college-going trends are concerning.

“We must work harder to promote the value of higher education and what our colleges and universities in Colorado have to offer,” she said. The report lags behind a year, with data about the 2022 class to be released next year. 

The 2020-21 year was especially challenging because many high school students learned remotely and had fewer college-going resources like counselors and financial aid help. College classes also were mostly remote, which cut into enrollment because students preferred a fuller college experience. Some students opted to work instead of attend college.